Wiz Khalifa‘s quickly becoming a go-to-guy for magazine front covers; Rolling Stone last year, Complex just this month – and now, XXL too. Well this is something entirely new – for the October/November issue of the famous rap monthly he appears alongside heavily-pregnant fiancée Amber Rose for one of his most intimate shoots yet.
The recently-engaged couple, who confirmed that they were expecting their first child on the red carpet at the VMAs, are shown in black-and-white, with a shirtless Wiz displaying his heavily-tattooed torso and Rose wearing just a white tank and bikini bottoms. The portraits were taken by Sarah McColgan, and they reveal a couple who aren’t afraid to make public displays of affection, perhaps because their match is still a decidedly healthy one.
The images accompany a cover story entitled Nobody Beats the Wiz, in which Khalifa and Rose were asked about how they met, what their friends think of their union, what they themselves think about being a ‘power couple’, as well as how they think their lifestyle will change once their child arrives.
Perhaps the most interesting aspects of the interview were the questions on how the Pittsburgh rapper intends to record his next album, [O.N.I.F.C. or Only N---a in First Class] in the light of his happy news. He said, “I just gotta do it. The most important thing is knowing that she is there and I have to tend to my babies…I gotta go hard at everything. As hard as I go in the studio, I gotta go just as hard taking care of my baby and making sure she’s alright, and I’m spending time with her and she doesn’t feel neglected.”
It’s clear that his priorities will probably have to change, but that his incredible work-rate is likely to continue.
Whilst the story does have its interesting elements, and whilst it’s great to celebrate happy news, I do feel that the cover could have been dedicated to some rather sadder news. Chris Lighty’s tragic death has left a massive hole in the hip hop community. Whilst it’s important to focus on the importance of Khalifa and Rose in pop culture, it’s worth asking whether there’s space in XXL and other magazines for an in-depth discussion of issues such as depression and mental illness in hip-hop? Does a stigma still hover over the subject?
The fact remains that Khalifa himself still has a great deal to do to be considered a musical icon. His debut on Atlantic, last year’s Rolling Papers, left a lot to be desired, and his recent releases have garnered mixed responses. I’m actually a fan of “Work Hard, Play Hard” and “Remember You,” Wiz’s (somewhat one-sided) collaboration with The Weeknd, but I know many who weren’t.
Can he maintain such a prominent place in the culture and have a meaningful impact on the sound of that culture? I’m not sure, but I’ve got my fingers crossed for him. This is a talented and passionate young man.
The October/November issue of XXL hits new-stands in the US on the 9th October; read some quotes from the interview at XXL and check out the cover above.
O.N.I.F.C. is available to pre-order via iTunes